Mendocino County Today: December 19, 2013
by AVA News Service, December 19, 2013
BRIAN BLUMBURG, a long-time resident of Anderson Valley, died of a heart attack yesterday (Wednesday) at his home in Navarro. An unfailingly genial man, Brian was best known as the highly skilled proprietor of Anderson Valley Plumbing and Pump, the successful business he founded in 1986.
THE UKIAH CITY COUNCIL has announced it will forego an election and accept the sole candidate for the vacancy made possible when Mari Rodin resigned to take a job in unsuspecting Monterey County. Steve Scalmanini, a retired engineer who is already causing great chagrin in all the right Ukiah circles, is the Council's new guy. A liberal and self-described fiscal conservative, Scalmanini is to the left of the Westside libs, and he's certainly too liberal for the reactionary clowns clustered at the Private Industry Council.
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT'S narcoleptic Mendo reporter, Glenda ‘500 Words A Month’ Anderson had the Scalmanini story in Wednesday's edition (two weeks after the AVA reported it.) Glenda quoted an alarmed Dick Seltzer, a Ukiah real estate hustler, that Scalmanini is more liberal than the libs presently steering Ukiah onto the fiscal rocks. Given that Scalamini is an engineer means he at least can be assumed to possess basic math skills, and one would think Ukiah's biz people would welcome a capable fiscal conservative onto the Council, whatever his views on the larger issues far beyond the purview of outback city councils.
GLENDA of course is the common-law wife of suspected Bari car bomber and 60s left murder cult guy Mike Sweeney, Mendo's lead garbage bureaucrat, ensuring that Sweeney, by far Mendocino County's most interesting figure, can't be discussed in connection with the Bari case by the Press Democrat.
ANYWAY, in Glenda's Scalmanini piece she also has Council member Little Benj (Thomas) sniveling, “Who needs the abuse?” The ref is to the occasional criticism of the sillier statements and flagrantly incompetent moves made by Little Benj, Phil Baldwin, Rodin, and Mary Anne Landis of the present Council. These people, overpaid at $490 a month, should be grateful they don't function in a larger media market, not the big vat of intellectual warm piss that passes for political debate in wacky Mendoland.
BY THE WAY, credit Scalmanini with the wittiest comment maybe ever by a Ukiah public official. He said of his unopposed appointment, “I would chock it up to my luck and the city's good fortune.” (Chock? Should be chalk, but heck, the PD only has about 50 editors.)
MUCH TALK RECENTLY in the Frisco media about the proliferation of coyotes in the City. I've seen two myself in the Presidio, both of them fully accustomed to the presence of human-type people. In years of hiking Mendo hills I've also seen exactly two of the intriguing little beasts, one jogging across Flynn Creek Road, the other engaged me in a long stare down, me at one end of a large drain pipe, him at the other. The standoff made me understand why the Indians regarded the coyote as a highly sentient creature, and a creature with a sense of humor. I could have sworn the drainpipe coyote was laughing at me.
THERE'S ALSO A LOT of hysteria and coyote misinformation circulating in the city, such as one young mommy worrying that an unattended infant or small child could be carried off by a coyote. An unattended child under the age of 14 anywhere in all of NorCal is about as rare as a coyote sighting, what with the large numbers of free range pervs and unpredictable mental cases roaming urban areas. Mummsies and poppsies long ago gave up shoving the kid out the door after breakfast. “Be back by dark, punk.” Well, not quite, but there was a time when parents weren't as terrified of life outside their front doors as they rightly are now.
BUT MOST of the coyote hysteria, in SF anyway where there are far more dogs than there are children, has to do with those dogs. It may be urban legend, but quite a few people are claiming they know of coyotes dashing out of the park bushes to carry off Little Fluffems. Not to be too hard hearted about it, but given the choice between a coyote and a poodle, right-thinking people will instinctively go with coyote.
THE FRISCO PEOPLE who track the city's wildlife claim the coyote population has doubled in a year, up from about 50 to a hundred or so. That figure seems improbable, but I find it positively exhilarating.
AN ON-LINE COMMENTER offered the following sensible rundown on the coyote: “Coyotes definitely do eat small dogs and cats. Large dogs usually overcome any coyote attack and are able to kill the coyote. They should be considered a danger to small children but are not a match for, and very rarely attempt to attack adult people. Coyotes can only be domesticated for the first year of their life when they mature and become wild and unmanageable. Coyote packs tend to be smaller than wolfpacks (5 or 6 is about normal). Like wolfpacks coyote packs can be joined by human participants who are researching their behavior, and after a while the humans will be accepted into the pack. Coyotes in a pack, like wolves, are monogamous, unlike dogs, as long as the alpha mates remain alive. When the alphas die, even an omega can become the new alpha and chooses his alpha mate. Only alphas mate and reproduce. No wolf or coyote has EVER killed a pack member. Coyotes are even more ‘intelligent’ than wolves. They tend to respond more to human language whereas wolves tend to respond more to facial and body expressions. This could be one reason why coyotes are such good colonizers of urban areas.”
JEFF COSTELLO WRITES FROM COLORADO:
Speaking of legal cannabis and the, um, “evolution” of marijuana culture, there's a picture of trimmers at work on the front page of the Denver Post today (Dec.18). And they don't resemble the trimmers one sees in Mendo/Humco at all. These people are far from hippies or hitchhiking transients in army jackets, with dogs on clothesline leashes. They are in fact old farts, aged redneck men and their poodle-haired grandma wives, the type one imagines on a farm, which they are. And this would be a normal harvest activity if not for the rubber gloves and surgical facemasks. I'm trying to understand the process by which they came around to this from a previous mentality which regarded pot as a criminal affair perpetuated by degenerate drug fiends. The almighty dollar would be a factor, of course.
STATEMENT OF THE DAY: “With little notice or fanfare, the digital world is fundamentally changing. What was once an anonymous medium where anyone could be anyone — where, in the words of the famous New Yorker cartoon, nobody knows you're a dog — is now a tool for soliciting and analyzing our personal data. According to one Wall Street Journal study, the top 50 Internet sites from CNN to Yahoo to MSN, install an average of 64 data-laden cookies and personal tracking beacons each. Search for a word like “depression” on Dictionary.com, and the site automatically collects and stores information about your computer or mobile device and your activities so that other websites can target you with antidepressants. Share an article about cooking on ABC News, and you may be chased around the Web by ads for Teflon-coated pots. Open — even for an instant — a page listing signs that your spouse may be cheating, and prepare to be haunted with DNA paternity test ads. The new Internet doesn't just know you're a dog, it knows your breed and wants to sell you a bowl of premium kibble.”
— Eli Pariser, 2011; from ‘The Filter Bubble’
JUSTICE FOR VICTIMS, not luxuries for Death Row inmates
by Kermit Alexander
California's death penalty system needs to change. Tiequon Cox, who has lived on Death Row for more than 27 years, has exhausted all of his federal and state appeals. On Dec. 1, he celebrated another birthday. Why do I care about Cox? Because on Aug. 31, 1984, Cox murdered my mother, sister and two nephews during an early morning home invasion. Cox, a for-hire killer, went to the wrong address and mistakenly killed my family — four acts of murder committed on an innocent family in exchange for $3,500.
In the past 29 years, I have missed my mother every day. Yet my family's murderer continues to live, even though the jury found him guilty and then unanimously recommended the death penalty.
However, California's death penalty has become ineffective because of waste, delays and inefficiencies. Just last year, voters upheld the state's death penalty by defeating Proposition 34. A coalition of district attorneys, law enforcement and victim's rights advocates like me are proposing a statewide ballot initiative to change the death penalty system in California. The initiative would revamp the appeals process, Death Row housing and victim restitution as well as the appointment of appellate counsel and agency oversight.
Today, my family's killer has his own cell with several luxury items that many general population inmates aren't allowed to have. He gets extended visitor privileges and is not required to work or pay restitution for his crimes. A commonsense reform would be to double-house Death Row inmates, which also would save California tens of millions of dollars a year. Under the rules, Death Row inmates spend their days either in their cells or in the recreation yard. Our initiative would require these inmates to work and earn money to repay the victims of their horrific crimes. If the inmate chooses not to work, then he or she would lose his or her television, radio or other luxury items.
It is not fair to the victims' families or to the convicted inmates to have to wait as long as 10 years before the first appeal is heard. The California Supreme Court is so backlogged that a Death Row inmate does not receive his/her first appeal hearing for 12 years. Even worse, it takes four to five years before a state-appointed appeals attorney is even assigned. We must reform this process!
Our initiative would expand the number of eligible appellate attorneys and move the first appeal to the state Court of Appeal, with the requirement of hearing the first appeal within five years.
The goal is not to execute people more quickly without due process; the goal is to ensure that those who have committed the worst crimes have their sentences carried out.
California's 730-plus Death Row inmates have murdered more than 1,000 people, including 229 children and 43 police officers. Of those victims, 235 were raped and 90 were tortured. These statistics include my mother, sister and two nephews.
Gov. Jerry Brown, who is personally opposed to the death penalty, has reviewed many death penalty cases, and stated: “I know people say, 'Oh, there have been all these innocent people,' Well, I have not seen one name on Death Row that's been told to me.”
Today, I am standing with the victims and their families to unite for changes in California's death penalty system. California needs to stand by its promise to protect its citizens and bring justice to the victims.
(Kermit Alexander, who was a defensive back for the San Francisco 49ers from 1963 to 1969, is a death penalty reform advocate.)
ANDERON VALLEY SINGER, WAITRESS, & BON VIVANT PATTY LIDDY recently posted her “Top Ten Books” “that have stayed with me would have to be, beginning with age 10”:
Little House on the Prairie
Stars in My Crown
Of Human Bondage
All Things Austen
Catcher in the Rye
All things Dickens
Tenth of December
WE ENCOURAGE OUR READERS to submit their top ten (or whatever number) good reads.
PEBBLES TRIPPET WRITES: The 2013 Emerald Cup Cannabis Competition has come and gone and will long be remembered as the grand event that ushered in the era of the “marijuana majority” and the sea-change toward ending marijuana prohibition. Area 101 and Skunk Magazine joined hands as primary sponsors for two full days, packed with inventive vendors, panelists, patients, activists, musicians, country farmers, environmentalists, lawyers, politicians, law enforcement reformers and whole families with small children — all packed in together with nary a noticeable problem. I was there overseeing the Skunk Booth, being a part of a Women's Perspectives panel, the Brave Mykayla support team and the Dennis Peron Lifetime Achievement Award and marriage to John Entwhistle. Before the marriage was officiated by Tony Serra I was walking through the crowd holding high over my head a photo of 7-year old leukemia patient Mykayla, when Samantha, the primary organizer came running up, breathlessly, saying “Where is Tony? We have to find him!” I took her to Tony and the marriage program gathered all the essentials and began to tell the story of Dennis Peron. O'Shaughnessy's editor Fred Gardner gave a rousing intro to Peron's colorful political life, recounting how Dennis served in Vietnam, returned to the US with a quantity of Thai to open up his efforts through the Island Restaurant, joined hands in 1978 with Harvey Milk to win Prop W(eed) by 58% (three weeks before Harvey's assassination), multiple arrests, getting shot in the thigh, the 90s AIDS epidemic sparking the Medical Cannabis Buyers' Club and Prop 215 campaign. 80% of the American people in all polls support medical purposes. Dennis started the journey that led us to this overwhelming shift in public opinion.
SAN FRANCISCO – The American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California and the National Center for Youth Law Wednesday charged that school officials in the Humboldt County towns of Loleta and Eureka, home to some of the state’s largest Native American communities, intentionally discriminate against Native American and Black students, and students with disabilities, levying disproportionate levels of discipline for minor infractions and forcing them out of mainstream schools at disproportionate rates. In a federal civil rights lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, the groups allege that top officials in the Eureka City Schools District subject Black and Native American children to a racially hostile educational environment by allowing pervasive racial harassment to persist unchallenged, intentionally pushing Native American students out of mainstream schools and into alternative schools, and teaching students racially-offensive and culturally-denigrating curricula. School district staff also witness without any intervention, and even participate in, what have become weekly traditions called “titty-twisting Tuesdays” and “slap-ass Fridays,” where students have their nipples, breasts and buttocks grabbed and hit in school hallways, locker rooms and other areas of district schools. Also on Wednesday, the groups joined with California Indian Legal Services to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education asking that the Office for Civil Rights investigate what the groups charge is ongoing racial discrimination against Native American students by Loleta Union School District employees. Filed on behalf of the Wiyot Tribe of the Table Bluff Rancheria and with the support of the Bear River Band of Rohnerville Rancheria, the complaint charges that staff at Loleta Elementary School physically assault Native American students, use racial slurs in front of Native American students and routinely suspend or expel Native American students for minor behavioral infractions. “Black and Native American students in Eureka and Loleta are routinely subjected to unacceptable and unconstitutional racially discriminatory treatment,” said Michael Harris, senior attorney with the National Center for Youth Law. “All students in California, regardless of race or gender, must receive equal educational opportunity and the chance to reach their full academic potential.” The lawsuit, which names as defendants the members of the Eureka City Schools District Board of Education and the district’s superintendent, among other school officials, charges that blatant racial harassment occurs regularly as white students frequently use racial slurs to refer to Black students and commit violence against Native American and Black students without ever being disciplined by school staff. Native American and Black students are also disciplined differently and much more harshly than white students. According to school district data from the 2011-2012 school year, Black students were suspended from some Eureka schools at a rate as much as five times higher than their enrollment rate while Native American students were suspended from some schools at a rate three times higher than their enrollment rate. Comparatively, white students are suspended at or about their rate of enrollment in district schools. Additionally, Native American students are pushed out of mainstream schools and into county-run community schools designed for high-risk youth and which do not appropriately prepare students planning to attend college. The Native American population at the Eureka Community School was three times higher than their overall district enrollment rate in 2011-2012, district data shows. District curriculum also ignores or actively affronts the racial and cultural history of Native American and Black students by utilizing materials that use the word “savage,” “negro,” and “nigger” without examining the offensiveness or historical context of those terms. “Despite repeated complaints to school district staff and administrators, students of color in Eureka have continued to be subjected to racially and sexually hostile school climates,” said Jory Steele, managing attorney and director of education equity for the ACLU of Northern California. “It is imperative that school officials be held accountable for failing to uphold their constitutional obligation to ensure that all Eureka students are protected from harassment and discrimination.” According to the Office for Civil Rights complaint, the physical and verbal abuse that Native American students in Loleta are subjected to is a perpetuation of a historical practice of Native American marginalization that dates back nearly 150 years. Modern day examples of Loleta students having their ears grabbed by the school superintendent who then exclaims, “See how red it’s getting?” or school district staff referring to Native American students during a school board meeting as “goats” and “sheep,” are reminiscent of the reports of pervasive physical abuse and malnourishment at the boarding schools Native Americans were sent to beginning in the late 1870’s. American Indian and Alaskan Native students have less access to educational resources in California than students from any other ethnic group, according to a 2012 report, and Humboldt County reflects that disturbing trend: less than 10 Native American students in all of Humboldt County completed the course requirements necessary to gain admittance to a California State University or University of California school during the 2010-2011 school year. “Eradicating all forms of discrimination from the school system in Loleta is key to ensuring that Native American students are able to achieve educational and professional success,” said Delia Parr, directing attorney for California Indian Legal Services. “Denying Native Americans equal educational opportunities only serves to ensure they will experience poorer educational and socioeconomic outcomes, and that is a cycle that must be broken.”
(ACLU Press Release)
WASHINGTON STATE RESIDENTS have been revealed to smoke an estimated 50 joints per year as a new study finds that they smoke more than double the amount officials originally predicted.
The state approved the use of medical and non-medical marijuana in December of last year, and at the time the state agency in charge of regulating sales licenses for the drug expected residents to consume 85 metric tons per year.
Now a national think tank has released the findings of a study where they discovered that the state's more than 6.8 million residents consumed closer to 175 metric tons this year.
The study, compiled by The Rand Corporation, was tasked with determining an accurate amount of marijuana consumed so that the Washington State Liquor Control Board can sign off on the correct amount of sales licenses.
The nature of drug sales made it difficult to even pin down the general sales estimate, as they said it could be anywhere between 135 and 225 metric tons, and chose 175 metric tons as the general total as it is the median.
The Washington Office of Financial Management based their original guess of 85 metric tons on sales data from 2008 and 2009 which said that there were 363,000 people who bought pot during the month before the survey was conducted.
That number went up to 556,000 people in 2010 and 2011, explaining the increased estimate as reported by the Rand Corporation.
'Updated federal data and information we collected from marijuana users in Washington prompted us to conclude that consumption is significantly larger than previously estimated,' said the study's author Beau Kilmer.
Time Magazine points out that such a difference in valuations- with the state-wide consumption jumping from 85 metric tons to 175 metric tons is as if each resident went from smoking 25 joints per year to smoking 50 per year.
'There is still a lot of uncertainty surrounding marijuana market estimates, but our work used new insights and novel data collection tools to improve upon previous efforts,' Mr Kilmer said.
The study was conducted because the state must strike the right balance between selling too much and too little marijuana.
The fear that comes with selling too little is that unlicensed dealers will spring up to meet the need, while if too much is sold the price will be driven down and could lead to more people traveling to Washington from out of state for the drug.
Washington is one of two states that currently legally sells marijuana, with Colorado being the other. There are 10 other states that allow the legal sale of medical marijuana and have decriminalized possession.
'Nobody knows what’s going to happen. We’re the pioneers here,' Denver City Councilman Charlie Brown told Time about their development of untested laws.
'It’s been a grind, and it’s not over. We’re going to ride herd on this industry and on these regulations. If we don’t work, we’re going to change them. And there will be gaps.'
(Courtesy, the London Daily Mail.)
UNDER AMAZON’S CIA CLOUD: The Washington Post
by Norman Solomon
News media should illuminate conflicts of interest, not embody them. But the owner of the Washington Post is now doing big business with the Central Intelligence Agency, while readers of the newspaper’s CIA coverage are left in the dark.
The Post’s new owner, Jeff Bezos, is the founder and CEO of Amazon -- which recently landed a $600 million contract with the CIA. But the Post’s articles about the CIA are not disclosing that the newspaper’s sole owner is the main owner of CIA business partner Amazon.
Even for a multi-billionaire like Bezos, a $600 million contract is a big deal. That’s more than twice as much as Bezos paid to buy the Post four months ago.
And there’s likely to be plenty more where that CIA largesse came from. Amazon’s offer wasn’t the low bid, but it won the CIA contract anyway by offering advanced high-tech “cloud” infrastructure.
Bezos personally and publicly touts Amazon Web Services, and it’s evident that Amazon will be seeking more CIA contracts. Last month, Amazon issued a statement saying, “We look forward to a successful relationship with the CIA.”
As Amazon’s majority owner and the Post’s only owner, Bezos stands to gain a lot more if his newspaper does less ruffling and more soothing of CIA feathers.
Amazon has a bad history of currying favor with the US government’s “national security” establishment. The media watch group FAIR pointed out<http://www.fair.org/blog/2013/08/06/amazon-wilkileaks-the-washington-post-and-the-cia/> what happened after WikiLeaks published State Department cables: “WikiLeaks was booted from Amazon’s webhosting service AWS. So at the height of public interest in what WikiLeaks was publishing, readers were unable to access the WikiLeaks website.”
How’s that for a commitment to the public’s right to know?
Days ago, my colleagues at RootsAction.org launched a petition<http://act.rootsaction.org/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=8979> that says: “The Washington Post’s coverage of the CIA should include full disclosure that the sole owner of the Post is also the main owner of Amazon -- and Amazon is now gaining huge profits directly from the CIA.” More than 15,000 people have signed the petition so far this week, with many posting comments that underscore widespread belief in journalistic principles.
While the Post functions as a powerhouse media outlet in the Nation’s Capital, it’s also a national and global entity -- read every day by millions of people who never hold its newsprint edition in their hands. Hundreds of daily papers reprint the Post’s news articles and opinion pieces, while online readership spans the world.
Propaganda largely depends on patterns of omission and repetition. If, in its coverage of the CIA, the Washington Post were willing to fully disclose the financial ties that bind its owner to the CIA, such candor would shed some light on how top-down power actually works in our society.
“The Post is unquestionably the political paper of record in the United States, and how it covers governance sets the agenda for the balance of the news media,” journalism scholar Robert W. McChesney points out. “Citizens need to know about this conflict of interest in the columns of the Post itself.”
In a statement just released by the Institute for Public Accuracy, McChesney added: “If some official enemy of the United States had a comparable situation -- say the owner of the dominant newspaper in Caracas was getting $600 million in secretive contracts from the Maduro government -- the Post itself would lead the howling chorus impaling that newspaper and that government for making a mockery of a free press. It is time for the Post to take a dose of its own medicine.”
From the Institute, we also contacted other media and intelligence analysts to ask for assessments; their comments<http://www.accuracy.org/release/cia-cloud-over-jeff-bezoss-washington-post/> are unlikely to ever appear in the Washington Post.
“What emerges now is what, in intelligence parlance, is called an ‘agent of influence’ owning the Post -- with a huge financial interest in playing nice with the CIA,” said former CIA official Ray McGovern. “In other words, two main players nourishing the national security state in undisguised collaboration.”
A former reporter for the Washington Post and many other news organizations, John Hanrahan, said: “It's all so basic. Readers of the Washington Post, which reports frequently on the CIA, are entitled to know -- and to be reminded on a regular basis in stories and editorials in the newspaper and online -- that the Post's new owner Jeff Bezos stands to benefit substantially from Amazon's $600 million contract with the CIA. Even with such disclosure, the public should not feel assured they are getting tough-minded reporting on the CIA. One thing is certain: Post reporters and editors are aware that Bezos, as majority owner of Amazon, has a financial stake in maintaining good relations with the CIA -- and this sends a clear message to even the hardest-nosed journalist that making the CIA look bad might not be a good career move.”
The rich and powerful blow hard against the flame of truly independent journalism. If we want the lantern carried high, we’re going to have to do it ourselves.
(Norman Solomon is co-founder of RootsAction.org and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. His books include “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.” Information about the documentary based on the book is at www.WarMadeEasyTheMovie.org.)
FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS 2013 Final Week
The Holiday Festivities Have Begun!
Friday . Dec 6th — Sunday, Dec 22nd, 2013
Thousands of lights transform the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens into a magical winter wonderland. Be amazed. Be delighted. Come for the fun.
5pm to 7:30pm: live music, beer & wine
Adults $10 | Children 15 and under free
Children must be accompanied by an adult. No pets.
Enjoy holiday treats and a casual supper at Rhody’s Garden Cafe.
Make Festival of Lights a Holiday Tradition
Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens
18220 N. Highway 1 . Fort Bragg . CA 95437
Tickets available at the Gardens Store and at the door.